Disturbing footage released during the coronial inquest of an aboriginal man show more than a dozen officers swarming the young Indigenous detainee just moments before his death.
The final moments of Wayne “Fella” Morrison, 29, were displayed for members of the court Monday where more than 16 officers are recorded restraining the Indigenous man prior to his transfer to maximum security at a facility three minutes away.
On his arrival, Morrison was found blue and unresponsive. He was declared brain dead and taken to in Australia's Royal Adelaide hospital where he died three days later.
“Precisely what occurred in the van is unknown as seven of the eight prison staff who accompanied Mr. Morrison on the journey have declined to provide police with statements,” said Anthony Crocker, a counsel assisting the coroner.
Six days before the incident, Morrison was said to be calm, polite, and in good spirits. However, while in prison, he was refused both psychological and medical assistance despite reports of an attempted suicide and the prisoner talking to himself.
Morrison’s sister, Latoya Aroha Rule said, “Our family has placed our trust in the coroner to ensure that there is justice in this process, that those who are responsible for Wayne’s death are held accountable, and that reforms are implemented to ensure the future safety of all prisoners.”
In an interview with Vice, Rule described her brother as a straight arrow, a good and gentle father and a phenomenal artist: “My heart cries out for just one more moment with my brother.”
Since her brother’s death, Rule has become a prominent Black and Indigenous rights activist, leading a number of national demonstrations and demanding justice for other victims of the judicial system.
“I was pretty upset initially but then I had to go protest, because we have to enact some justice. I had to look at my brother as another Aboriginal man...This is not just about Wayne..it's systemic, it's oppression," Rule told Vice.
At least 400 Indigenous people have died in prison since 1987, says the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, though no prison employees or officers have ever been charged.